Tax Incentives & Education

Governor McDonnell has ceremonially signed into law a bill that provides tax incentives for donations that help low-income children and students with disabilities attend nonpublic schools.  The measure received support from only a few Democrats and narrowly passed the divided state Senate.

Under the law, individuals or businesses can receive tax credits worth 65 percent of their donations for private school scholarships, which must go to low-income students. The law is intended to reduce state costs for public education since more students would attend private schools. But the governor said it’s really about helping children succeed regardless of their zip code or parents’ finances.

“We’ve tried a lot the last couple of years as governor to create a world class public education system in Virginia but also to create some options and some choices for young people. Charter schools. College laboratory schools. Virtual schools and now a tuition tax credit bill all that create the range of options for young people and their parents to be able to make an effective choice.”

Opponents argue such measures siphon tax dollars away from public schools, strapping local budgets and hurting students left behind. There’s an annual state cap of $25-million, which would pay for about 7,000 students to attend one year of public school. That’s 2% of Virginia’s poorest students.

–Amanda Iacone

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